Decodable books are books with decodable words or text that young readers can sound out and combine those sounds into words. These are essential books for teaching reading skills because the books are organized by phonics patterns. The books facilitate decoding practice and will build confidence as children find success with reading.
Decodable books focus on specific phonics sounds or spellings. These books use words that follow phonics rules, such as consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words. Occasionally, these decodable books will have high frequency words (sight words) that students can’t decode but will be part of the instruction of reading and writing for young readers.
The downside of decodable books is that they are (in my opinion) mostly mind-numbingly boring. And yet, the more I learn about the science of reading, I realize that these books are absolutely essential when learning to read.
Once a child learns to decode, they will become confident, fluent readers who will be able to read wonderful books with more interesting content. So first, teach kids how to read. Then, they’ll be able to improve comprehension and experience the joy of reading.
The research also shows that phonics (decoding) should be taught explicitly with a sequential approach. Listen to the Sold a Story podcast about the Science of Reading to learn more. It’s well-researched journalism that does a great job explaining SoR and the curriculums, politics, and policies that have sought to ignore it.
I highly recommend the researched-based READING SIMPLIFIED program as a fast and doable approach for reading instruction. It will show you the easy way to teach emerging readers phonics skills, knowledge of letter sounds, aka. how to decode.
Here are decodable readers books to read when you’re teaching a child to read. These will take readers through a sequence of phonics skills that will help children practice phonics skills in a sequential order.
Decodable Readers: Books for Early Reading
My favorite books on the decodable list, these gems are written with a specific phonetic scope and sequence by expert writer, editor, and literacy advocate, Brooke Vitale. Growing readers will be able to progress as readers because the books are written to build upon each other. Each book teaches and reinforces a phonics rule, such as CVC, blends, or diagraphs. Even better, kids will enjoy the books because the stories are funny and engaging. Plus, you’ll love how each decodable book includes eight pages of reinforcing reading activities after the story.
ReadBright offers leveled, full-color decodable readers that follow a systematic, cumulative, researched-based scope and sequence. Kids love the engaging illustrations. Adults love the explicit, sequential materials to support growing readers with phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
Flyleaf offers four decodable book series — Emergent Reader, Reading Series One, Reading Series Two, and Reading Series Three — for preK to grade 2 or 3 intervention. The decodable books allow readers to apply phonics skills while enjoying the stories filled with fine-art illustrations.
Half-Pint Kids offers three levels of decodable readers. Each colorful book comes with multisensory activities, vocabulary words, and comprehension questions.
High Noon: Dandelion Launchers and Little Sprouts series
Dandelion Launchers focus on combining letter sounds to form CVC words. by the end of book y, all of the initial sounds of the alphabet will be introduced.
Little Sprouts are books with one-syllable CVC words, single consonants, consonant /z/ sound spelled s, initial an final consonant blends, and inflectional ending – s plus final double consonants.
Scholastic mostly offers leveled books but here’s one decodable phonics series with simple short vowel words.
Practice connecting letter sounds with 16 books containing short-vowel words.
My youngest daughter learned to read with the decodable readers Bob Books the summer after kindergarten– and she caught on quickly! I was surprised at how fast she learned and went through the levels. The collection is separated into stages, starting with Reading Readiness, then continuing with Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3. It starts out with some decodables in a scope and sequence of their own making but doesn’t teach more than the very basics. For a true decodable book series, I would pick one of the other choices on this list.